Though incorporation activity in the majority of offshore
jurisdictions was down slightly in the second half of 2012 when
compared with the first six months of the year, company
registrations in certain jurisdictions offered signs of optimism,
according to Appleby, one of the world's largest providers of
offshore legal, fiduciary and administration services.
Despite tough economic conditions, levels of new company
registration activity in one major offshore jurisdiction continued
to increase, according to Appleby's latest 'On the
Register' report, which provides insight and data on company
incorporations in offshore financial centres. Bermuda reported a 7%
increase in activity compared to the first half of the year,
according to the report, which looks primarily at the data for the
last six months of 2012.
"There are signs that 2013 will be a watershed year in
terms of seeing a universal return to pre-2009 activity levels
across the offshore jurisdictions," said
Farah Ballands, partner and global head of fiduciary &
administration services at Appleby.
Nonetheless, the on-going weakened economic conditions continued
to impact the overall market in the second half of 2012. There were
37,881 new offshore company formations in the jurisdictions covered
by the report, a decrease of 3.6% from the second half of 2011, and
a deeper decrease of 11% on the preceding six months in 2012.
Minimal Growth in 2012
Taking the entire year into account, the overall number of new
company incorporations for the majority of jurisdictions stayed
flat in 2012, which proved to be a year of consolidation following
large increases in annual new incorporations between 2009 and
"Continued uncertainty in some markets and the shift in
focus from China/Asia to Africa for jurisdictions such as Mauritius
and the Seychelles are preventing a speedy return to the numbers of
company formations recorded prior to the global economic
crisis," Ms. Ballands said. "Add to this several major
international events during the second half of 2012 including the
US Presidential Elections, continued economic uncertainty in the
Eurozone and the once-in-a-decade change in leadership in China,
and it's hard to be surprised at the company registrations
barometer struggling to quickly improve," she added, "but
we are seeing growth in some markets."
The story is similar for the total number of active companies,
with most jurisdictions showing little movement from the previous
year as new company formations cancelled out the numbers leaving
the registries. Hong Kong, as a comparator, saw a 9% increase in
the total number of active registered companies, with the local
register there breaking through the one million mark for the first
time. The Mauritius and Cayman registries are steadily returning to
their pre-recession peaks, experiencing a 3% and 1% rise
Among the report's key findings is that in the second half
Overall volumes of new offshore companies being registered were
11% lower in H2 2012 than the preceding six months. After a busy
first half of the year, jurisdictions including the Isle of Man,
Mauritius, Cayman and the British Virgin Islands were approximately
10% down in the latter half.
The jurisdiction that continues to dominate offshore new
company registration activity by volume is the British Virgin
Islands, which has consistently maintained a six-fold lead ahead of
its nearest comparator, the Cayman Islands.
Year on year, Guernsey is the only offshore jurisdiction
revealing growth in new company registration activity with a 1%
increase between 2011 and 2012.
Mauritius is the offshore economy witnessing the greatest
growth rate in total number of companies on its register with a 3%
increase between 2011 and 2012.
The UK and Hong Kong, as comparators, continue to show signs of
recovery. Hong Kong in particular showed significant growth between
H1 and H2 2012 with a 7% increase in registrations. Both Hong Kong
and the UK registrations are now well above those recorded in
A full copy of On The Register, H2, 2012 can be found
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